NBC set a date for its Maya Rudolph variety special/pilot. Revisiting the variety-show format, The Maya Rudolph Show special will air at 10 PM Monday, May 19. Andy Samberg, Kristen Bell, Fred Armisen, Chris Parnell, Craig Robinson, Sean …
Discovery Channel says it scheduled Everest Jump Live to debut during the short window of opportunity dictated by weather on Everest. Everest Jump Live is set for Sunday, May 11 at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. The 2-hour event, chronicling climber Joby Ogwyn‘s attempt to jump from the summit of Mt. Everest wearing a wing suit equipped with cameras, is produced by NBC News’ Peacock Productions. NBC officially unveils its schedule to advertisers Monday morning.
NBC News’ Willie Geist will host the jump, and be joined by The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, who will serve as chief meteorologist and track Everest’s unpredictable weather conditions. Kyle Martino of NBC Sports and Chris Jacobs of Discovery and Velocity will deliver on-the-ground updates at Everest Base Camp, while Geist and Cantore will be based at a studio in New York City.
A recap of Deadline’s top TV stories this week:
Stephen Colbert Named CBS’ New ‘Late Show’ Host
By The Deadline Team
A week after David Letterman announced his retirement, CBS has named his successor. Stephen Colbert has inked a five-year deal to take over Late Show, a move that is effective as soon as Letterman officially steps aside from the late-night show he has headlined since its launch on CBS in 1993.
NBC’s Jimmy Fallon And Seth Meyers Welcome Stephen Colbert To ‘Late Show’: Video
Moonves Takes A ‘Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Victory Lap
Stephen Colbert Does Not Envy Whoever Replaces David Letterman (Video)
David Letterman On Stephen Colbert’s Hire
CBS’ Late-Night Drama Not Over Yet Despite Practically Perfect Stephen Colbert Hire
By Lisa De Moraes
CBS’ announcement today that Comedy Central rock star Stephen Colbert would replace David Letterman as host of its late-night show in 2015 caps a whirlwind week in which the network jumped from being just a little footnote in the coverage of The Battle Of The Two Jimmys to the undisputed star of the late-night drama.
With less than a month until the upfronts, we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. As usual, the first edition only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering early attention as many pilots are still filming. So, if a pilot is not mentioned, it probably means it is too early to weigh in or the feedback I’ve received is inconclusive at this time.
Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis. Need we say more? ABC’s sexy suspense legal thriller How To Get Away With Murder, executive produced by Rhimes and starring Davis, is packing some heat early on. Secret & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe also is getting encouraging early response. It also has a seven-figure penalty and is directed by Charles McDougall, whose strong pilot record includes Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife and most recently, Resurrection last season. Then there is Marvel’s stealth Agent Carter project. Last year, the company went into Fort Knox mode on its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, which was kept under lock and key. They took that a notch further this year with Agent Carter. Because there is a prototype — the project is inspired by a one shot, which was featured on the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 — word has been that it would forgo a pilot and go straight to series. The script was finished more than three months ago (“the script is great,” ABC’s Paul Lee said back in January), the option on one-shot’s star Hayley Atwell came up and was extended, but the green light never came. Now there is talk that a pickup for Agent Carter may come along with a renewal for Marvel’s freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the new series possibly serving as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also getting various level of early traction at ABC is mystery Sea of Fire and several dark horses, alien drama The Whispers (aka The Visitors), medical drama The Warriors and mystery Clementine.
That is one of the most intriguing questions heading into the upfronts this year. Of Dick Wolf‘s five Law & Order series, only one — first spinoff Law & Order: SVU – is still on the air. But its renewal is being complicated by financial issues. Now in its 15th season, Law & Order: SVU is the longest-running drama series currently on TV. As a high-end drama at that age, it is inherently expensive, leading to periodic budget reviews. Last year, SVU, along with Wolf’s then-freshman Chicago Fire, received early pickups. This year, Chicago Fire and freshman spinoff Chicago P.D. were among the shows to get early renewals by NBC last month, but SVU wasn’t. (All three are produced by NBC sibling Universal TV, where Wolf is based.) I hear the holdup has to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for SVU to come back, something he has been unwilling to do.
Both sides have a point. Wolf’s camp could argue that SVU is having one of its strongest seasons in years, with star Mariska Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced performance. Averaging a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating (most current), SVU ranks as the No. 4 NBC scripted drama this season behind The Blacklist (4.3), Chicago Fire (2.9) and Grimm (2.6). Last night, the show matched its best 18-49 Live+Same Day rating (2.1) since the season premiere, up 21% from last week. SVU also is up double digits vs. last season, by 21% in 18-49 and by 17% in total viewers, and has an off-network deal with USA. Plus, I hear Wolf had taken a pay cut on the show once and is reluctant to do it again.
On the other hand, as solid as they are, SVU‘s numbers still are nowhere near the show’s heyday, prompting the network’s request for cost reduction. Ironically, NBC is in position to hold firm in part because of Wolf’s success with the Chicago Fire franchise. With young series like The Blacklist, Grimm, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. (2.4 in 18-49) doing as well or better than SVU, the network is far less dependent on the veteran than it was just a couple of years ago.
It is very difficult for showrunners to wrap production on a season without knowing if their series would get another season. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the network business, and about two dozen shows go though that every year. Here is a look at each network’s comedy and drama series in peril and their odds for survival.
With all the drama carnage at ABC this season (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, The Assets), the network is pretty lean on the hourlong side, and all shows currently on the air have a good shot at coming back. That includes two freshman series, fall drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite slipping in the ratings, and midseason entry Resurrection. Of returning dramas, there is no doubt about renewals for Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, especially with stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed on, and Scandal, as well as Castle and Once Upon A Time. While it was heavily on the bubble last season, country music drama Nashville appears in a stronger position this spring and looks likely to continue. And, despite its ratings erosion, Revenge remains a signature, upscale drama for ABC that the network also owns. Because of its heavy mythology with a revenge storyline that has been central to the show since the pilot, it is unlikely that ABC would abruptly end the series without giving it a final chapter to wrap things up.
Things are far murkier on the comedy side where there are three shoe-ins, anchors Modern Family and The Middle and freshman The Goldbergs. None of these hail from ABC’s sister studio, and building a steady comedy pipeline at ABC Studios has been important for the overall health of the company. There are three ABC Studios-produced comedy series on ABC at the moment, all on the bubble: freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology and sophomore The Neighbors. The network will likely renew at least one comedy from its own studio. (Last year, it picked The Neighbors vs. 20th TV’s How To Live With Your Parents.) Of the three, Trophy Wife seems to have the biggest support and is the most promotable, with a star cast led by Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. But the name cast also makes Trophy Wife the most expensive, and its ratings are pretty soft. The Neighbors, which comes from prominent Disney writer Dan Fogelman, costs way less, and, while only doing so-so on Fridays, it could deliver something ABC Studios has not seen in a while: a third-year comedy. (Fogelman also has comedy pilot Galavant in the running at ABC.) Then there is Mixology, which has not done well behind Modern Family. It stands out with its unusual structure — set in a bar over the course of one night — it has quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC. But relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge and growing ratings for such a show with a continues storyline would be very difficult. ABC has a recent history of sticking with narrow, quirky relationship comedies like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- but all were eventually cancelled. 20th TV’s Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen is quietly wrapping its third season. It has done a decent job as a Friday 8 PM anchor and is ABC’s only multi-camera series. With several high-proile multi-camera pilots, the network could use Last Man Standing as a building block. (How about Allen paired with another comedy vet, Henry Winkler of The Winklers?).
NBCU Press Day: Comedy Stars Not Fans Of Multi-Cam, Question ‘Shameless’ Decision To Compete For Emmy As Comedy
It is the golden age of comedy now, Mindy Kaling told reporters at NBCU Press Day, because whereas once you used to have to wait 2 1/2 years for Larry David to get around to writing another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “now there’s always something happening” in comedy on the TV landscape. She was joined by stars of other Universal TV comedies airing on NBC and elsewhere.
Related: Mindy Kaling Exits UTA
Jenna Elfman is a big fan of single cam comedies, like her new Growing Up Fisher, because “with the Internet … audiences are more savvy, and with a single camera you can home in on nuance more than with multi-cam and capture the smarter side of the story.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg chimed in: “I was on SNL, which was live, but everything I did was pre-taped, so I was already headed in that direction. Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott said there a “weird thing” about doing comedy on a multi-cam. “If you don’t say a joke with a particular inflection, the laughs just don’t occur. I did very badly in that format.” But he acknowledged, “Shows like Cheers were able to make it work.”
NBC Press Day: ‘Undateable’ Pushes No Envelope Because Broadcast Can’t Compete With Cable On That Front, Bill Lawrence Says
Undateable is a “classic throwback sitcom, it cracks me the frick up,” executive producer Bill Lawrence told reporters at NBC Press Day. Though the show is about a bunch of mostly young single guys, it does not push any content envelope, Lawrence said. “One of the things I’m really proud of is, it’s laugh out loud funny without being crass. This feels reminiscent of the shows I grew up loving, like Cheers. I didn’t try to push the envelope too much…If you’re a on a network its hard to compete with shows like Louie or Veep that have no language standards, or nudity standards, or content standards,” he said. Lawrence said he set out to do a multi-camera comedy because it’s “where the networks can compete with cable. I enjoy watching Veep, and Silicon Valley is funny as balls — check it out,” he said. “Multi-camera comedies — I grew up with NBC being the king of them,” he said.
NBC wants to find fresh comedic voices. NBC’s Entertainment President Jennifer Salke today announced “NBC Comedy Playground,” which the network is calling a “grassroots” initiative designed to invest in new “cutting-edge comedy” through a national campaign that offers aspiring comedy writers from across the country the opportunity to pitch ideas with the winners getting a show on the NBC schedule. Salke made the announcement at NBCU Press Day — a sort of itty bitty Summer TV Press Tour — in Pasadena. “In our quest to break new comedy at the network in addition to our team doing great work, I felt it was time to push forward a marriage between what’s happening on the internet and the network,” Salke said.
NBC‘s Night Shift exec producer Jeff Judah insists he loves the idea of his big ensemble medical drama running on the broadcast network in the summer. “There are not as many shows on the networks, it may not get lost as much, maybe get a chance to be seen by more people — we love it.” he told reporters at NBC Press Day.
NBC series The Night Shift, about the men and women who work graveyard at San Antonio Memorial, got an 8-episode order as part of a four-show deal between NBC and Sony TV last May that included pickups of The Blacklist (with guaranteed Monday 10 PM slot), Welcome To The Family and The Night Shift, and a renewal of Community. The Night Shift pilot tested very well, with Irish actor Eoin Macken in the lead, as adrenaline junkie T.C. Callahan who, after a grueling tour of duty in the Middle East, now works in the ER. Creators Gabe Sachs and Judah executive produce with Pierre Morel.
Twitter is not a comic’s best friend, the producers and judges of NBC’s exhumed Last Comic Standing said today at NBC Press Day. “I want to see you on stage with that mike, then I’m going to get it,” judge Keenen Ivory Wayans said. “I don’t know where the jokes come from when they’re online. It’s not real to me unless I see you with a microphone.”
“I enjoy it, because I like to provoke people and get them pissed off,” judge Roseanne Barr jumped in. “The whole heckler thing is why I got into it. I like being fast with the retort…I like to block people too.”
Next month, NBC returns Last Comic Standing, with new judges Barr, Wayans, and Russell Peters, new host JB Smoove , new format, new celebrity guests, and invitation-only auditions. This reality television talent show aired its first seven seasons from 2003 to 2010. Last November, NBC announced the show’s latest 13-episode order. Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz of Push It Prods. executive produce for Universal Television through their deal with the studio, along with The Marriage Ref‘s Javier Winnik.
Steve Burke doesn’t want people, or advertisers, to pay attention to total viewer ratings because “we’re in the 18-to-49 business,” he told a press gathering today in the run-up to the upfront sales season. Indeed, if presented with a program that would attract a big total audience, but not would be weak in the target demo, “we wouldn’t pick that show up,” he says. That’s required a change in thinking at the NBC, where shows such as Today and Nightly News With Brian Williams often are promoted on the basis of the 25-54 demo. “They should at least know both” the younger and older demo numbers, Burke says. He acknowledges that older viewers can be attractive for advertisers; for example, NBC has tried to capitalize on The Blacklist‘s popularity with 55-to-64 year olds, a group it calls the Alpha Boomers. Still, Burke says, “it’s very hard to get the industry to change” and “as long as people keep score that way [by focusing on young adults], that’s how we’re going to broadcast.”
The NBCUniversal exec renewed a familiar call for the industry to look at 52 weeks of programming instead of the 35 weeks from September to May. “We’re living in a completely different time now,” he says. “We’re competing straight through the summer.” He and research chief Alan Wurtzel also want Nielsen to step up its efforts to measure viewing on mobile devices, and advertisers to buy spots based on the number of people watching over seven days, not just three. “Those are things the industry can do today,” Wurtzel says. Burke adds that for some shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show as much as 40% of the views “we’re not monetizing and we need to change that.
“We can officially announce we shot cameos Tuesday,” Today co-anchor Matt Lauer announced this morning on the program, of his appearance with Today weatherman Al Roker in Syfy‘s upcoming Sharknado sequel, Sharknado 2, debuting July 30 on the fellow NBCUniversal network. Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie, giving the performance of her lifetime, responded that she is “wildly jealous.” Today played a clip in which Roker, on the Today set, explains to Lauer, “This is a twister with teeth.” Lauer contributes: “Enough said indeed, Al, Thank you very much.” The cameo was shot yesterday. Lauer also showed a clip in which he uses a Today orange umbrellas to stab something that looked like it came from the fish department of Whole Foods, only wrapped in green fabric. “I can’t believe we gave away the whole climax of the movie,” Lauer said. “I’ll remind you the Golden Globes are next January — who are you wearing?” Guthrie snarked.
In Sharknado 2, “a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a ‘sharknado’ on the city’s population and its most iconic sites,” Syfy has said of the sequel. The original orgy of bad special effects and even worse acting had triggered a social media feeding frenzy among journalists and celebrities when it premiered last July.
NBC Orders Charles Manson Drama Series Starring David Duchovny From Marty Adelstein & ITV Studios Who Eye Alliance
Following the end of his Showtime dark comedy series Californication, David Duchovny is reuniting with former Showtime topper Bob Greenblatt for Aquarius, a gritty 1960s cop drama at NBC about a cop who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. The project, envisioned as an event series, has received a 13-episode straight-to-series order. Aquarius was written by John McNamara, creator of the cult Fox series Profit. It will be produced by ITV Studios America and Marty Adelstein Prods in the first collaboration between the companies, which have been in lengthy talks about a joint venture-type of partnership, in which Marty Adelstein Prods would function as a mini studio under the ITV Studios America umbrella following Adelstein’s upcoming exit from his long-time studio home, 20th Century Fox TV. Aquarius marks the return to broadcast TV of Duchovny, who toplined Fox’s hit The X-Files, in which Greenblatt also was involved while at Fox.
Set in the late 1960s, Aquarius stars Duchovny as a Los Angeles police sergeant with a complicated personal life who starts tracking a small-time criminal and budding cult leader seeking out vulnerable women to join his “cause.” The man’s name is Charles Manson. The twists and turns of a complicated undercover operation will lead Duchovny’s character and his young partner to the brink of Manson’s crimes that eventually will lead to the Tate-LaBianca murders in subsequent seasons. “Event series are a big priority for us, and the combination of a show that charts the lead-up to the Manson murders, along with a television star of the magnitude of David Duchovny, is the very definition of an event,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. Added Greenblatt, “After being involved in the production of both The X-Files and Californication, it gives me great pleasure to work with David Duchovny for the third time on this compelling drama.” Aquarius joins another Charles Manson project, a limited series is in development at Fox with writer Bret Easton Ellis and director Rob Zombie.